Network Attached Storage – the perfect solution for sharing data across multiple platforms

How do we manage all of this data?

October 30, 2013

By Kalvin Subbadu, Components Sales Manager, WD South Africa

The world we live in has become ever more connected. From notebooks and desktops to tablets and smartphones, we are always tapped in to the digital realm at work, at home and on the go. Practically every member of the family is now online with their own device, both producing and consuming content, which leads to a growing challenge – how do we manage all of this data? This challenge is compounded by the fact that different devices feature different operating systems, each with their own way of handling data, and which do not seamlessly integrate with each other. As a result, Network Attached Storage (NAS) is becoming an increasingly popular option for storing, sharing and accessing large volumes of data across various platforms, both in the home and in the small business environment.

While there are many reasons for the growth in connectivity and the ever-increasing use of multiple connected devices, the penetration of social media has accelerated this trend. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others have virtually transformed connected devices into easy to use, highly engaging communication platforms for users of all ages. This has led to a mind shift – people who once viewed their computer as a tool solely for work purposes have now taken up social or casual gaming, and are also using their various smart devices for online shopping, to make VoIP calls and so on. For the younger generation, who has grown up with these devices, connectivity is simply a part of everyday life.

Today, it is common for entire families to be online, embracing smart, connected devices, producing and consuming digital content that needs to be stored and managed across multiple users. The challenge, however, is the vast array of different devices, using multiple different operating systems from PC and Mac to Android, iOS and Windows. Each of these systems have different ways of handling data, and often they do not interact or integrate with devices from other systems. This makes sharing content across devices difficult. Of course, there are options like email and free cloud solutions like Dropbox, but for dozens of images or large files this is a time consuming process that uses up precious bandwidth. Content can also be uploaded to social sites for sharing, but the issue here is that once this content is uploaded, you lose control of your data. There are many options for sharing content, but the majority of them are far from ideal in many scenarios.

Thankfully technology offers the solution to get around this challenge. A NAS device can be connected to your home or office Wi-Fi router, which then enables it to be accessed by any device on the network. While in the past these devices were complicated and expensive, limiting their use to businesses, today’s solutions are practically as easy as plug and play, and are also relatively inexpensive. With advanced features and a range of apps, you can now store and share content across multiple devices and platforms, creating a central repository for data. Using a broadband Internet connection and a connected mobile or computer device, you can even access the content on the NAS from outside of the network, for sharing and storage on the move.

There are many NAS devices available aimed at the Small Office and Home Office (SOHO) market as well as the home user, and for those with large storage demands, unpopulated NAS enclosures enable you to add as much storage as you need and expand as your demands grow. The WD Red family of hard drives, available in sizes of up to 4TB per drive, has been designed specifically for use in NAS enclosures with between one and five drive bays. The Red family also includes NASware software which makes integration between the enclosure and the drives a simple task.

A four or five bay NAS system that is fully populated with drives also offers another advantage over and above high capacity storage – it enables you to choose from a variety of RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disk) options that offer enhanced data protection and performance. While there are a number of RAID configurations available, RAID 6 offers a good balance of capacity, data protection and performance, with the added benefit of being able to recover data even if the NAS experiences failure of one or two of the drives.

Mobility and connectivity are the future, with smart devices, content generation and the need for content sharing only set to grow. Both home and business users need storage solutions that enable the right blend of capacity, ability to share and access data, and data protection for backup purposes. NAS systems offer all of this and more, with a breadth of features including sharing and storage for multiple platforms, remote accessibility and data security, making them the ideal solution for home and small office users.